Monday, September 17, 2012

herbs and spices

I grow lots of herbs in the gardens chez Pook and Bug. I chose to make the border around our boring patio slab an entirely child-safe and edible border.  I put in rosemary, oregano, chives and garlic chives, parsley, thyme, mints safely sequestered in pots, marjoram, a bay laurel, and the occasional lemony something, plus basil each summer.

There have been several unsuccessful experiments. Rosemary struggles without enough sun. Basil and parsley have off years sometimes. This year I experimented with stevia, a horribly sweet herb I have no particular use for since I don't sweeten my drinks. The plant has grown fine, but if it doesn't come back next year I won't go searching to buy it again.

But today I planted something new. New! NEW!! I've followed The Faire Garden for years and when she discussed planting her own crocus for saffron. I was intrigued. When she talked about harvesting her own saffron, I was hooked. I found a reputable source and I ordered. Herbs AND spices!

No matter that I've never really cooked with saffron. I sometimes buy a yellow rice mix that probably fakes the saffron with artificial flavors and colors.  But, I could cook with saffron. If saffron wasn't so expensive maybe I'd have been cooking with it all along. See? I could be a closet saffron lover and not even know it.

They are a fall blooming crocus, crocus sativus, and fall is planning to be upon us anytime. I planted them today and I will follow up with pictures of the flowers when they come. And if this works out, I'll cook.  Feel free to send me a paella recipe if you have a good one. I am such the optimist today!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

soups on

We're pretending it's fall here. And in our defense, I have seen some leaves coloring. We have turned off the A/C and opened windows.  But, we're still in shorts.  Eating soup, wearing shorts.  Fine with me.

When I said I was going to make soup, Bug called from the other room "Make the black bean one!"  I'd already pulled out the ingredients.

This comes, originally, from Fitness magazine, (Feb. 2006). A printable can be found at recipezaar #151772. I got it from my friend Nadya.  The good recipes get around.

It uses chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Buy it. Feel free to freeze the extra in portion sized amounts, but it isn't hard to find and it isn't expensive.

Black Bean and Coconut Milk Soup
In soup pot, over medium heat, saute
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. chipotles chilies in adobo sauce, minced

Get those onions nice and soft while you enjoy the smell.  A half cup water can be added to push the onions along.  Then add the rest.

2 cans black beans (incl. liquid)
1 can coconut milk
2 1/2 c. broth (veggie or chicken)

Bring your lovely mixture to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Just enough time to warm up some corn tortillas, a baguette, or make some rice to plop in the middle of your bowl.

I use an immersion blender to puree it all a bit. I still like to keep some of the chunks.

If you want to be all pretty, serve it with cilantro, fresh tomato and lime.  We had it plain and still loved it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

things I know

  • If you change the sprinkler head on a hose without turning off the water, no matter how sure you are that you can do it this time, you will get wet

  • If you are craving some comfort foods and are going to the grocery that day, no matter how much restraint you show at the store, you will still end up eating comfort foods later

  • If you remember being in a situation yourself and now see your child struggling with the same thing, no matter how well intentioned you are, your child will still think you lived with dinosaurs and cannot possibly understand him.